WELCOME to our Eyecatchers column. Every week form expert Alan Thomson pinpoints horses primed to strike in the next few weeks, if not days. Remember, you can add Alan's weekly updates to your ATR Tracker.
MUSSELBURGH COURSE RECORD-BREAKER MANAMITE CAN COLLECT AGAIN
(Musselburgh, 27 February)
Ben Haslam has been electric on the Newcastle all-weather this winter but Manamite and Call The Cops provided him with a hurdles double, both sporting the JP McManus colours.
Richie McLernon is an important cog in the wheel and he gave both winners a trademark hold-up ride.
Manamite had three runs for Gordon Elliott before shipping over to Yorkshire and although the gelding won a Hexham maiden on heavy ground just before Christmas, he seemed more at home on this much sounder surface.
Well-backed Kelpies Myth briefly looked the winner two out but it soon became evident that Manamite was cantering in his slipstream.
The six-year-old quickened six lengths clear, breaking the track record, and if talented Manamite can add consistency to his portfolio, he can win a few more.
(Southwell, 27 February)
It was a day for track records, with Weld Al Emarat adding his name to the Southwell roll of honour in this Class 2 handicap.
With more than £12,000 up for grabs it came as something of a surprise to note the paucity of southern raiders and it was left to Mick Easterby’s winner and Space Bandit to fight out an exciting finish.
Space Bandit was up 8lb for his wide-margin success here at the end of January and Mick Appleby wisely employed 5lb claimer Theodore Ladd, an apprentice with plenty of Fibresand experience.
They almost pulled it off and Space Bandit was a bit unlucky to run into such a smart rival.
(Lingfield, 2 March)
Deep Intrigue has been in rampant form since early December, winning at three different all-weather tracks (Newcastle, Lingfield and Chelmsford City), all over six furlongs.
Mark Johnston stepped the colt up a further furlong in the Ladbrokes Spring Cup and he gave odds-on Fanaar a good fight right to the line, succumbing by a neck to the William Haggas-trained winner.
Deep Intrigue scored on fast ground at Beverley last season so is clearly no one-trick pony.
(Newbury, 2 March)
Alan King’s veteran chaser rolled back the years with an excellent third to San Benedeto in the William Hill Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup.
Valdez is prone to the odd mistake but jumped well, if a little out to his right, just behind the principals.
He has dropped to a reasonable mark and is doubly entered at Cheltenham, in the Grand Annual and the Brown Advisory over a longer trip.
On this display, Valdez could outrun his big odds if turning up at the festival.
TRULL LA LA
(Huntingdon, 3 March)
Shaped with promise at Ludlow in December when third to Liberty Bella and strong market support forced Trull La La into favouritism for this mares’ maiden hurdle.
Nico de Boinville had her in a lovely position throughout before pushing Trull La La into the lead early in the straight.
This daughter of Henderson’s useful Chomba Womba, third in the 2008 Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, was strong at the finish and there is scope for more improvement.
(Wolverhampton, 4 March)
Nigel Tinkler’s mare posted a decent third on her previous visit to Wolverhampton and the handicapper took a chance by dropping the five-year-old a couple of pounds.
That leniency would have reaped a reward if Kilbaha Lady had enjoyed a better rub of the green.
She was shuffled back on the rail when caught on heels behind the restrained Sir Lancelot and, switched wide, had a wall of horses to pass in the straight, eventually finding only Creative Talent beyond recall.